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Tips for building a timber frame house

The technology of timber frame house manufacture is a centuries-old tradition of timber construction combined with modern construction technologies. The basic structure of a timber frame house is a timber frame filled with thermal insulation material like stone wool, eco-wool, etc. This house structure is known for its fast assembly and, depending on the project, the frame assembly may take only 3 days. In addition, the building can also be assembled in the winter, as the timber frame panels are pre-fabricated at the factory and are not exposed to the effects of changing weather conditions.

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Finding the right partner is one of the first and most important steps before construction and planning. As timber frame houses are becoming more and more popular, companies offering timber frame house construction growing by the day, so this choice isnt an easy one. Market research and understanding of the types of timber frame houses will help you to make the decision. By comparing the offers, you will find many similarities, but it is worth paying attention to some details, for example, whether the company manufactures structures at its own factory or are just a middleman to another company; whether the timber is processed using equipment or handwork, etc.

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Suggestions for finding a timber frame construction company:

1. The construction of a timber frame house is probably the case when you want to work with companies that have practiced, for example, in Scandinavia or Canada, because in these countries there are very high quality standards for timber frame houses, which can provide an additional sense of security and guarantee.
2. It is also advisable to check feedback on projects that have already been built, how long the company is working in the field of timber frame construction and what standards they meet.
3. Some manufacturers offer a free quote, we recommend using it.
4. Ask three or four companies to bid for your project and compare them (terms, materials, costs, range of services, etc.)
5. Once you select some companies, arrange an appointment at the manufacturing plant or at the project that is under construction, where you will be able to familiarize yourself with production technologies and the company's professionality.
6. Be sure to ask about alternatives that will save you money.

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Prefab-projects and individual orders

Although there are many companies working with design and construction of timber frame houses, the offer largely depends on the wishes of the customer. Currently, there are several companies in the market that offer to choose among ready-made projects, and there are also companies that, in cooperation with a certified architect, offer to develop a unique project according to the individual wishes of each client. It is also good to know that there are companies that sell ready-made projects or only provide a home frame installation, and companies that offer a complete set of products from design & development to home improvement and exterior improvement. Depending on which services you choose, the price of the frame house will also change.

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Timber frame house construction process

Preparation work. Several preliminary tasks have to be carried out before the construction begins. First, you have to choose a suitable building plot and find out its development possibilities, also you have to make a geological and geodetic examination of the land plot. If the chosen land plot meets the requirements, the next step is the designing of the house project, then receiving the building permit and the hiring of a certified contractor. Upon obtaining the building permit, it is necessary to make an access road to a construction site, install water and electricity supply, as well as to insure construction work.

The first phase. When the preparation work is done, it’s time to start the construction. First of all, the foundations of the house are poured, then the timber frame and trusses are installed and then the water drainage systems and engineering networks are carried out.

The second phase. After the construction of the house frame, the house must be connected to a common water and electricity supply system and then follows the interior work. Cleaning of the building site and exterior improvement work has to be done in this phase.

Third stage. The third final stage is related to the arrangement of the documentation and commissioning of the house, therefore, after completion of the construction works, it is important to order the cadastral survey file and find out what documents are necessary for the house to be commissionned. Once the documents have been filed, you must sign the acceptance and delivery act with the contractor and register the property. 

Timber frame house construction technologies

There are two different timber frame construction technologies – the development of frame structures on site or the prefab preparation of structures. The on-site installation is a bit cheaper but requires higher labour costs, while the industrial timber framework is a little higher in costs, but ensures quality and compliance with standards, and significantly reduces assembly costs and time spent in the construction process. The choice of construction method is mainly determined by the size of the project, the complexity of the project and the client’s wishes. Regardless of the technology chosen, the cost of building a timber frame house will be approximately the same in both instances.

Types of timber frames

There are several types of timber frames. Nowadays, the three most popular types of timber frames are the open panel system, the closed panel system and the SIP technology.

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Open frame system

Most companies use an open panel system. Open-panel timber frames are made with the inner side of the wall elements without a casing, which means that the panel is essentially made of a softwood frame covered with OSB from the outside. Choosing this frame you will receive the timber frame materials faster, but it requires more on-site involvement. Window and door frames are installed on site, and after the house frame has become water isolated, wiring and plumbing pipes are installed in the walls, heat insulation works are made, and the process is completed by sealing the panels with a moisture-proof barrier or plasterboard.

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Closed frame system

This is a modern system that is very popular in Scandinavia. House frame panels are delivered with all the necessary installations. In the production process, all the necessary communications are incorporated into the panels, insulation work is done and even windows and doors are installed. Because of this factor, houses of closed-panel systems are often referred to as panel houses. A closed panel system ensures less work on the site, but if the manufacturing process makes a mistake or if you want to make changes to the project, it will be practically impossible.

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SIP panels

SIP panels (Structural insulated panels) are manufactured industrially and consist of a bark frame filled with foamed polystyrene and OSB-coated on both sides. Choosing this method, the house does not need a separate house frame because SIP panels are the main supporting element of the construction.

DIY timber frame installation

Of course, it is possible to build a timber frame house on your own, using an open panel system and even SIP technology, but in this case you have to take into account several things that would otherwise be done by a professional timber frame construction company, for example, transportation of materials, provision of construction equipment, provision of labour and preparation of the necessary documentation. Remember that a company with vast experience will guarantee the quality of the frame, and no matter how satisfying it is to do things yourself, we recommend that you put the building into the hands of professionals.